Transport for London (TfL) vowed that vandalism of ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) cameras “will not stop” the scheme’s expansion.
The transport body issued the statement after the Metropolitan Police said it had recorded 288 crimes relating to the cameras as of August 1, and released an image of a suspect. The BBC said there had been more than 300.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will extend the Ulez area to cover the whole of the capital from August 29.
This means many more drivers of vehicles that do not meet minimum emissions standards will be liable for a daily £12.50 fee.
TfL is installing 2,750 cameras in the new Ulez areas, which will be used to detect non-compliant vehicles.
Anti-Ulez vigilantes have repeatedly targeted the cameras in recent months.
Videos have been posted online showing people described as Blade Runners cutting the cameras’ wires or completely removing the devices.
TfL warned that exposing wires meant perpetrators were putting themselves at risk of “severe life-changing injuries or death from electric shock”.
It went on: “TfL is working closely with social media companies to identify the people featured in videos damaging Ulez cameras circulating online.
The Metropolitan Police launched an operation in April after TfL reported criminal damage to, and theft of, cameras.
The force said reports of crimes included 185 cables being damaged, 164 cameras being stolen and 38 cameras being obscured.
Multiple offences can be linked to one camera, such as a cable being cut and then the camera being stolen.
Commander Owain Richards of the Metropolitan Police said: “These are clearly unacceptable acts of criminality and we have a team of officers investigating and identifying those responsible.
“We are providing a proportionate policing response, balancing these incidents against the wide range of operational demand and crime we must respond to across London.
“We are working closely with Transport for London and – alongside our investigation into offences already committed – we are supporting them to identify new ways to prevent further cameras from being damaged or stolen.
“We are continually reviewing where we need to focus our efforts and we will continue to do that over the coming weeks to ensure we are providing the service Londoners expect from us.”
Attempts to make the cameras harder to vandalise include the use of black metal boxes and extra protection for cables.
TfL’s director of capital delivery Nick Fairholme said: “We urge the small minority of vandals who are damaging Ulez cameras to reconsider their actions.
“We have seen evidence of vandalism where cables have deliberately been left exposed so that anyone carrying out repairs would be killed or seriously injured.
“This is dangerous and reckless behaviour putting lives at risk.”
Scotland Yard released an image of a man they wanted to trace in connection with four camera offences in Hillingdon, Harrow and Uxbridge on June 17.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or contact the force’s account on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @MetCC.
To give information anonymously, it is suggested people contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or at the crimestoppers-uk.org website.
In May, Joseph Nicolls, 42, of Foots Cray High Street, Sidcup, was charged in relation to damaging Ulez cameras.
Vehicles that do not meet minimum emissions standards are required to pay a £12.50 daily fee when used in the Ulez zone, or face a fine.
TfL says nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day comply with the Ulez standards.
Figures obtained by the RAC show more than 690,000 licensed cars in the whole of London are likely to be non-compliant.
This does not take into account other types of vehicles or those which enter London from neighbouring counties.
Motorcyclists opposed to the Ulez expansion will ride together on the M25 on Sunday.
They will gather at six locations on the outskirts of the capital before descending on Surrey’s Box Hill.
Mr Khan has previously described his decision to expand the Ulez area as “very difficult” but insisted it would “see five million more Londoners being able to breathe cleaner air”.
Critics like ex Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage have vocally opposed the expansion, tweeting today: “When laws become enemies of men, men become enemies of laws. I have been firmly told that in our area no ULEZ camera will stay up for very long”
PA – Neil Lancefield